A school district in California will shell out $27 million to the family of a boy killed in a brutal bullying incident four years ago after reaching a settlement Wednesday, according to the lawyers involved.
The family of Diego Stolz, 13, sued the Moreno Valley Unified School District after a bullying incident caught on camera left the teen with a traumatic brain injury that killed him nine days later, KTLA reported. Stolz’s family argued Landmark Middle School was aware the teen was a regular victim of bullying and harassment but did nothing to intervene.
In the days leading up to the attack that ultimately killed Stolz, the bullying and harassment against the teen reportedly increased, leading to a meeting between school administrators and the family. Though school officials promised they would suspend the individuals responsible, the family’s lawyers claim, Stolz returned to school and found the boys had not been suspended.
The Moreno Valley Unified School District will pay $27 million to the family of Diego Stolz, who died in 2019 after he was attacked by two bullies on school campus, despite multiple complaints to school administrators. https://t.co/RizilwjPdp pic.twitter.com/sjoGNTpshd
— KTLA (@KTLA) September 13, 2023
Later that day, Stolz was punched in the head by one of the teens, causing him to fall and strike his head against a pillar. The teens then continued to punch Stolz in an attack that left him with a traumatic brain injury. Doctors declared the teen clinically dead nine days after the attack, prompting his family to remove him from life support, according to another report from KTLA.
“That’s what’s unbelievably devastating to this family, that this could have been prevented,” attorney Dave Ring stated when filing the suit against the district. “It could have been prevented if this school took bullying seriously.”
The two teens responsible for Stolz’s death received a 47-day sentence in juvenile detention following guilty pleas for involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. The boys were also ordered to attend anger management classes, according to KTLA.
Following Stolz’s death, Landmark Middle School’s principal, Scott Walker, and assistant principal, Kamilah O’Connor, were replaced.
“On behalf of the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education, we want you to know that we truly care about each and every student and staff member in our district. The news of Diego’s death was not something we took lightly. The safety and well-being of our students is and will remain our top priority,” the school district announced, following the settlement, according to KTLA. (RELATED: ‘We Fell Tragically Short’: Boarding School Admits Fault In Student’s Suicide)
While Ring stated that Stolz’s family would be forever heartbroken over the death of the teen, they hoped Diego’s case will bring change to schools all over the country to prevent something like this from occurring again.